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25.02.08
Local MP in the lab: Julia Goldsworthy becomes a biologist

Local Liberal Democrat MP Julia Goldsworthy has taken a day out of politics to get a taste of academic life. Julia is taking part in the Royal Society's MP-Scientist Pairing Scheme with Dr Jonathan Blount, a Royal Society Research Fellow at the University of Exeter's Tremough Campus, Penryn.

Julia spent a day at the University of Exeter's Centre for Ecology and Conservation, based at the Tremough Campus, shadowing biologist Dr Blount. Her visit included using cutting-edge laboratory equipment, trying her hand at fieldwork and joining students for a biology tutorial.

In the laboratory, she measured colouration in birds' feathers, learned about the role of colour in animal signalling and found out about Dr Blount's research on the health-enhancing effects of antioxidant vitamins. They then visited Devichoys Nature Reserve, run by The Cornwall Wildlife Trust, to check bird boxes that are being used in one of the University's new research projects. Dr Blount is working with The Cornwall Wildlife Trust and other local groups to monitor the effects of different foods on the long-term health of birds. Finally, they returned to the Campus where Julia attended a tutorial, giving her an opportunity to meet some of the University's Cornwall-based students and discuss the importance of science in society.

Julia Goldsworthy MP for Falmouth and Camborne said: "It was a truly eye-opening experience spending the day with DrBlount. I learned a lot about his research and the excellent facilities that are available on the Tremough Campus. Meeting him and other graduate and undergraduate students gave me a whole new perspective on how the CUC works, and what makes it so successful."

Dr Jonathan Blount grew up in Helford and Newquay and studied in Plymouth, Bangor and Glasgow. He worked in Mauritius and around the UK, including a four-year-stint at Newquay Zoo, before joining the University of Exeter's Tremough Campus in 2005. A scientist who has an international reputation in his field, he is also passionate about building strong links within the local community. He said: "I really appreciate Julia taking time out to experience a day in the life of a scientist. Our students enjoyed meeting their local MP and we had a very lively discussion about the role of science in society and about education opportunities in Cornwall. As the University's Tremough Campus grows and develops it is essential that we build close collaborations with local and regional groups. I look forward to working with Julia in the future to ensure the community has many opportunities to benefit from its University."

The University of Exeter's Tremough Campus is home to the Centre for Ecology and Conservation, an internationally-renowned team of scientists focusing on issues that are central to the future of life on our Planet, including behavioural and evolutionary ecology, and conservation biology. Its facilities include Cornwall's only molecular biology laboratory.

Established in 2001 as part of the Science in Society programme, the Royal Society scheme aims to build bridges between some of the best research workers in the country and members of the UK parliament. To date over 80 scientists and MPs have taken part. In December Dr Jonathan Blount spent a week in Westminster attending seminars on the workings of Parliament, going to Select Committee hearings and shadowing Julia, accompanying her to meetings and watching her speaking in the House of Commons chamber.

The £100 million Tremough Campus is a Combined Universities in Cornwall initiative ­of which the University of Exeter and University College Falmouth are two of the founding partners. It is funded mainly by the European Union (Objective One), the South West Regional Development Agency, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, with support from Cornwall County Council. Set in 70 acres of countryside, but close to the waterside towns of Penryn and Falmouth, the campus offers a lively student community. The University of Exeter now offers degrees in Biology, Modern Celtic and Cornish Studies, English, Geology, Geography, History, Law, Mining Engineering, Politics and Renewable Energy on its Tremough Campus, which has expanded rapidly as part of the Combined Universities in Cornwall initiative.

For further information please contact Sarah Hoyle, Press Officer, University of Exeter, on 01392 262062/07989 446920 or email s.hoyle@exeter.ac.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) project, both Phase 1 and Phase 2, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). University of Exeter is a partner of the CUC.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
The Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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